Gambling Addiction, Help, Support & Resources

I have extensive experience working with gambling addicts, having spent considerable time at GamCare, a leading resource and independent UK charity. I offer comprehensive mental health and counselling services, both in-person and online, in Barnsley.

Gambling addiction, also known as compulsive Gambling or gambling disorder, is a severe mental health problem characterised by an overwhelming urge to gamble despite harmful consequences. Severe financial difficulties, relationship issues, and a decline in both mental and physical health can follow. While gambling addiction affects many people, there are effective treatments and support systems available to help with recovery.

Treatment and Support

Counselling and Therapy

Getting gambling addiction therapy from a counsellor registered with a professional body (such as BACP) can significantly help in recovering from gambling addiction.

Effective treatment for gambling addiction usually involves a combination of therapies and support systems. CBT (Cognitive-behavioural therapy) is commonly used to help individuals understand and change their gambling behaviours. CBT focuses on identifying the thoughts and emotions that drive Gambling and developing healthier coping strategies.

Specialised gambling addiction clinics across the UK, such as those run by the NHS, offer comprehensive treatment plans. These plans include psychological support, group therapy, and family counselling (NHS England). These clinics are essential in addressing the root causes of addiction and supporting long-term recovery.

GamCare provides free, confidential advice and support to gamblers and those affected by them. Their services include a 24-hour helpline, online chat, and access to treatment programmes (GamCare). GamCare also offers self-help resources, such as workbooks and self-guided exercises, to help individuals manage their gambling behaviour.

Treatment and Recovery Options

Effective treatment and recovery options include the following:

  • Gambling addiction treatment
  • Gambling addiction recovery
  • Rehabilitation for gambling addiction
  • Treatment centres for gambling addiction

Alternative Treatment Options

Besides traditional therapy, other treatment options include:

  • Organisations like Gordon Moody offer residential treatment programmes.
  • Holistic therapies, including mindfulness, yoga, and meditation, can help alleviate stress and reduce the urge to gamble.
  • Alternative therapies such as art therapy, music therapy, and equine therapy.

Understanding Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction shows various symptoms that affect different parts of an individual’s life. These include:

  • Preoccupation with Gambling: Continually thinking about Gambling, planning to gamble, or recalling past gambling experiences.
  • Inability to Control Gambling: Failed attempts to cut back or stop Gambling despite wanting to.
  • Continuing to Gamble Despite Negative Consequences: Persisting in Gambling even after it has caused financial, social, or legal problems.

The brain’s reward system drives gambling addiction, releasing dopamine during gambling activities. This neurotransmitter causes pleasure and excitement, repeatedly prompting individuals to seek this feeling. Over time, a tolerance develops, requiring higher stakes to get the same emotional response, similar to substance addiction.

Signs of gambling addiction include constantly thinking about Gambling, not being able to stop or cut back, and continuing to gamble even when it causes problems. These behaviours often result in significant personal, social, and financial harm. According to the NHS, Gambling can become a severe mental health issue if not adequately addressed (NHS, GamCare).

The Impact of Gambling Addiction

The effects of gambling addiction are extensive. Financial difficulties are common, often leading to significant debt and even bankruptcy. Gambling can put a strain on relationships with family and friends, causing isolation and more emotional stress (NHS, GamCare).

Gambling addiction also has broader societal implications. Public Health England estimates that around 0.5% of the adult population in the UK are problem gamblers, with millions more at risk of developing an addiction (NHS England). This highlights the need for accessible and effective treatment options and preventive measures.

Preventive Measures and Support

Preventing gambling addiction involves a mix of regulatory measures and personal strategies. Regulatory initiatives such as self-exclusion programmes (e.g., GamStop) and blocking software (e.g., Gamban) can help individuals limit their access to gambling sites and apps. Financial institutions also help by offering services to block transactions to gambling websites (NHS).

Personal Strategies for Prevention

On a personal level, individuals can take specific steps to prevent and address gambling addiction:

  • Set strict limits on time and money spent on Gambling.
  • Avoid high-risk situations where Gambling is encouraged or easily accessible.
  • To replace gambling, engage in alternative recreational activities, such as exercise, hobbies, volunteering, and socialising with friends.
  • Monitor emotional triggers that may prompt Gambling and develop healthier coping mechanisms.
  • Seek early intervention at the first signs of problematic gambling behaviour.
  • Stay informed about the risks and signs of gambling addiction with trusted resources (HelpGuide).

For those affected by someone else’s Gambling, resources are available to help manage the impact on their lives. Gamcare and similar organisations advise and support family members and friends, helping them cope and encouraging their loved ones to seek treatment (GamCare, NHS England).

Support for Family Members and Friends

Family members and friends of individuals struggling with gambling addiction can access support and advice through various channels:

  • GamCare’s support services offer confidential advice and counselling.
  • Gam-Anon provides support groups for those affected by a loved one’s Gambling.
  • Mind offers resources and support for managing mental health issues related to gambling addiction.

Support Services and Groups

Support services and groups provide crucial support for individuals and families:

  • Gambling support services – GamCare
  • Gambling addiction support groups – GamCare